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Reflections from Manucore’s SCLFE2018

Don’t look now. The millennials have us surrounded.

A key theme which struck us at the Supply Chain Leadership Forum in Warsaw was the enormous impact being felt by organisations at either end of their supply chains. On one side; the pain of increasingly dynamic buying patterns and the chaos that drives across the supply chain. On the other; the fear, hope, terror and expectation that comes with a new generation of employees as leaders begin the transformation journey.

Capability & Supply Chain Talent

Speaking to many of the participants at SCLFE2018 we detected ongoing frustration and despair when it comes to attracting and retaining high potential supply chain talent. Capability and talent was by far the pervasive theme of the conference: how can we find talented and entrepreneurial people to help us build a response to the multitude of challenges we’re facing.

A perspective from The Sequoia Partnership: Capability build must start with the fundamentals of supply chain. If your team has been operating successfully with spreadsheets and brute force for over a decade, it’s unfair to expect an overnight transformation into Supply Chain 4.0 experts. Start with ensuring they understand (and can apply) the basics of supply chain well through systems and process. Then identify and support those with both the entrepreneurial thinking and soft skills to tackle the dynamic yet systematic changes required to make your supply chain more responsive.

The Sequoia Partnership has worked with several of the world’s leading FMCG organisations to provide bottom-up Supply Chain capability building. For more information please contact Erika Biggadike (

Supply Chain 4.0

There was much hype and discussion around the impact of eCommerce and social media on the Supply Chain function. Participants discussed everything from modular logistics, AI and IOT to dynamic Supply Chain processes and outsourcing complex activities. The move away from marketing and product led customer offering towards a Supply Chain driven customer experience provided food for thought for many. Whether your company is at the forefront of brand-led FMCG or a B2B these forces will eventually impact on your Supply Chain as the millennial population engaged in the function continues to grow.

A perspective from The Sequoia Partnership: The best investment you could make in 2018 is to clearly understand and concisely articulate the many Supply Chains operating within your business – whether you realise it or not! Look at your customers, products and routes to market: how is the volume shifting, which are the KPIs you should be measuring and how could this picture look in 5 years’ time. Armed with an insight into the needs of your business, you’ll be much clearer about cherry-picking the industry 4.0 opportunities that will really drive competitive advantage for your business.

Over the past 25 years The Sequoia Partnership has supported organisations through transformative change, network re-design and ensuring Supply Chain is an influential business partner. For more information please contact Ciara O’Brien (

Entrepreneurial S&OP

For many, the highlight of SCLFE2018 Warsaw was an inspiring talk from Alain Perrot on the need to invigorate the hackneyed S&OP process. He was so bold as to challenge supply chain leaders to demand their CEO take centre stage in the process and make it a key driver of strategic, commercial priorities. Many attendees were inspired by his call to develop and hire collaborative and entrepreneurial supply chain executives versus the trend towards strong administrators and executors – flipping the traditional hiring approach on it’s head.

A perspective from The Sequoia Partnership: S&OP can be one of two extremes: a tiring, ineffectual weekly process where each function digs their heels in and consensus/cooperation go out the window OR it can be a dynamic and fruitful debate about how best to deliver the strategic priorities of the company with the resources available. Alain reminded the Sequoia team of a well-known fact: 80% of S&OP implementations fail. Like Alain, we believe in the power of people. So, stop reinventing your processes: look at the characters and personalities you have in your teams and work with them to design an ongoing conversation which delivers results to the business.

The Sequoia Partnership has successfully combined leadership training, applied supply chain knowledge and gaming to embed cooperative dialogue within leading FMCG organisations. We are accredited trainers in the powerful Management Drives™ system. For more information please contact Sarah Sheppard (

Outsourcing & Collaboration

Many of the keynote speakers at SCLFE2018 challenged the audience to ‘think big’ and look outside of their own organisations to find ways of delivering transformation and growth while also maintain a productivity journey. They encouraged leaders to embrace collaboration with suppliers that bring technical expertise and insights with data science methods. Are there activities your organisation does not currently excel at? Have you considered the support of 3rd parties to fast track a proof of concept or internal capability build? Would it make more strategic sense to outsource while you focus on other priorities?

A perspective from The Sequoia Partnership: A common challenge for the Supply Chain leader is a lack of capability or resources to make transformation a reality. Stagnation can often occur when no-one within your business has the vision of how things could be because all their energy is sucked into fire fighting the day-to-day. People work hard to do the best they can in the moment and often thinking in a transformational way just doesn’t make the to-do list.

The Sequoia Partnership has delivered many transformative business models for clients over the past quarter of a century through an approach we refer to as Numerically Assisted Thinking®. Our brilliant minds combine the best of supply chain fundamentals with the latest in AI and machine learning. For more information on our tools business please contact Helen Ritchie (

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